By Anna Chibamu
AS Finance minister Mthuli Ncube presents the 2021 National Budget this Thursday, many locals say they were expecting government to dump its traditional bias towards security ministries in terms of budgetary allocation often at the expense of social services sectors.
They were speaking in separate interviews with NewZimbabwe.com Wednesday.
Harare researcher Tjenesani Ntungakwa said he looked forward to budgetary priorities focussed on mitigating hardships brought by a sinking economy and the Covid-19 menace.
“As a citizen, the budget on labour, agriculture, water and development, health and education should be prioritised for the 2021 budget.
“I expect the government to put less money on Home Affairs and Defence ministries. If this does not happen, it means our budgetary processes are predictable and will need no further discussions and analysis,” said Ntungakwa.
He added, “It means the ordinary person is subjected to perpetual poverty, lacking access to basic provisions like water, health care and food security. In that case, it means an individual expenditure on consumables will be primarily food and no other basic investments.”
Another citizen, Rungano Chikura from Masvingo wishes to see Ncube awarding civil servants enough salaries as well as channel funding towards resuscitating the health and education sectors.
“Social and public services should be the main focus for the government at the moment not forgetting bonuses and availing more resources to Covid-19, drugs, testing and quarantining services in schools,” he said.
One Michael Ruzeze of Highfield in Harare challenged Ncube to award resources to social sectors in order to cater for people’s current needs and those that revive the economy such as agriculture, mining and primary industry.
He also urged government to consider vulnerable groups needing basic services and reducing taxes that directly affected workers such PAYE.
For decades, government has struggled to clear foreign debt and paying its workforce.
Parliamentary Committee chairpersons who met with government and other stakeholders last week to deliberate on budget bids that had been presented by different line ministries revealed that 70% of the allocated budget funds had not been paid by Treasury to respective ministries.
Minister Ncube last week projected a growth rate of 7.4% whilst MDC Alliance core-vice president and former Finance minister Tendai Biti on Tuesday told journalists that at the current rate of inflation which is around 759%, zero growth rate was expected in 2021.